Bleak House by Charles Dickens
And Mr. Guppy reverts back to his usual manner, though I did find Mr. Jarndyce’s reaction to Mrs. Guppy’s efforts to remove him from his own home rather funny.
I was intrigued by the picture of the fallen country house at the end of the novel when the narrator returns to Chesney Wold and considers the great mausoleum that houses the Dedlocks of old. Such a contrast is made between the middle class world of the now married Woodcourts in their happy little Bleak House, and the empty, forbidding estate. Mr. Boythorn’s kind antagonism toward Sir Leicester continues to illustrate the unerring goodness of that man, while Mr. Skimpole’s end only serves to complete a picture of grasping greed.
I finally warmed to Richard and Ada in these final chapters. They seemed so inconsequential throughout the novel, despite their part in the Jarndyce case and Richard’s misguided actions. While Ada remained a quiet figure, her hopes for the future made her come alive as a character for me. Until this point, Ada remained a sort of set piece in Esther’s narrative, too passive to play a proper supporting role. Despite Esther’s humility, I thought her a well-rounded character who grows and develops. Ada never really seemed important until the end, though it was only through Richard’s slow demise that she came into her own. It’s strange that this should be, that only as a result of Richard’s descent into the Cause do we see Ada take action. Poor Richard, poor Ada.
I felt this line perfectly summed up Richard’s experience:
There is a ruin of youth which is not like age; and into such a ruin, Richard’s youth and youthful beauty had fallen away.
But, returning to the now married Woodcourts… Happily, Mr. Jarndyce’s goodness inspires him to dissolve his engagement with Esther, allowing her to accept Mr. Woodcourt’s offer. I still wonder about Esther’s illness and her reference to her loss of beauty, but this is no impediment to her union with Mr. Woodcourt and their merry life at the new Bleak House. In her simple life, Esther reaps the real reward brought about by the end of the Jarndyce trial, while Ada takes her place as the new Fitz-Jarndyce (as Miss Flite would say).
The Bleak House Read-Along is hosted by Amanda at The Zen Leaf.